Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Summary day one

Introduction and welcome
Rory Cellan-Jones of the BBC welcomed us to World of Learning 2008 and opened this conference.

As technology correspondent at the BBC he asked us "is now the time for technology and gadgets? Is this a good time for training?"

Rory wasted little time and handed over to Bob Mosher.

Informal learning
This session was led by Bob Mosher of Learning Guide solutions.

We were challenged to consider what we were missing in terms of learning opportunities for us as individuals and what learning opportunities were being missed as organisations. The myth was dispelled that Informal Learning was only adhoc, Mosher argues that it is real ‘in time’ and just enough to solve the problem or challenge facing the learner.

One of the challenges of selling the Informal Learning approach to the organisations in which we operate is the soft or fluffy perception of the language. Mosher prefers to use the term “Performance Support” when positioning this type of intervention.

Conventional training tends to be an event or series of events with a logical beginning, middle and end. Informal Learning is an ongoing methodology with a small intervention to meet the needs of the learner at the time.

Mosher shared some interesting research about the retention of learning and made a compelling case for continuous informal learning interventions. Traditionally we have used training or learning interventions under two conditions:
1) when learning for the first time
2) when wanting to learn more
This is fine, but in the situations where:
3) individuals try to recall or apply previous learning
4) when things change
5) when things go wrong

Then traditional solutions just don’t work. Informal learning should be equally effective at all five times of learning need. Interesting that when an individual has a need such as in (3) above, often the only solution we offer is (1) or (2) above – in other words we do the same intervention, but often slower and louder! To enhance performance we need to implement new ways of meeting the needs of our learners.So is "Informal Learning" the emperors new clothes? No I don't think is its, i think this marks a move and change of focus in what we as professionals need to do to ensure the sustainability of our organisations, what is unfortunate is the name or label - it sounds too fluffy to be sold in these hard and businesses focused times.

Session 2
Innovative approaches to Learning and development
In this two part session Robin Hoyle from Learnworks and Darren Benzani from LexisNexis Butterworths shared an external and an internal view on innovation in learning and development.
Hoyle introduced the concept of the “Innovation Hit Parade” where innovation in L&D is often targeted in one of three areas:
1) Technology – the use of technology to introduce or deliver learning in different ways
2) Multiple application – where a successful programme or product is packaged and taken from a one time use to a wholesale product or solution.
3) Spread the load – where functions outside L&D are involved in the design and delivery – for example coaching, mentoring etc.

Hi pointed to the challenge we have in the sector and that is of innovation stickiness. In training and management we love the “new shiny things” and often move on before letting new approaches embed themselves effectively. A challenge is for us to us the approach that many marketing firms use – and that is that the launch is just that the launch – for any solution to be sticky in any environment we need a regular and consistent marketing or communications plan. We need to sell our programmes and initiatives as though we are selling a product – we need to keep the concept in the minds eyes of our customers.

Benzani built on these ideas and caught the audiences attention with this opening statement ”Often training budgets are the first to get cut.. but at LexisNexis the training budget is double next year” Benzani is a strong and firm believer in measurement and evaluation and ensures that any programme his team undertakes appropriate measures (learning and operational) for all activity and has some impressive numbers to show the business just how he and his team add value.
Interestingly he is proud of the fact that as a function they do not report into HR, but into sales and marketing. He highlighted this structure as being a critical part of the way they operate and puts this down to the success they have and continue to have.

Using L&D methods for all aspects of talent engagement and retention Benzani has been instrumental in changing the recruitment process from 80% experience based recruitment to 70% behavioural – they believe they can train the experience in to people with talent. They aim for the top 5% and use IQ measures as part of the selection process to ensure this approach.

A culture of business and learner led development is important and use their PDP system as part of their reward system, with individuals receiving bonuses for development towards there behavioural framework, with quarterly meetings and three behaviours targeted each time.


Overall an interesting session in which this short piece cannot do it justice.
Key messages – back to basics – focus on the needs of your customer (the business) and if you are not the best to deliver a particular activity – outsource!

Mike Morrison is director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy. He has been involved in HR, OD and strategic development for over 20 years. He can be contacted via

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